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Pope urges patience, good will to achieve peace in N. Ireland

Pope John Paul II appealed Saturday for patience and openness to keep peace talks for Northern Ireland alive despite mounting violence.

"I cannot but encourage the present dialogue between the various parties in Northern Ireland, in the hopes that the desire for reconciliation and trust will prevail, in spite of the enormous difficulties involved and recurring moments of crisis," John Paul told Britain's new ambassador to the Holy See, Mark Edward Pellew."This dialogue is admittedly difficult, and patience, good will and genuine openness are required in order to bring it to fruition," the pope said.

Seven Protestant and Catholic parties in Northern Ireland have been holding peace talks since June 1996 on the future of the British-ruled province.

On Friday, Protestants and Catholics united across Northern Ireland to denounce violence by militants trying to wreck the talks.